Thursday, August 26, 2010

mooooovies (#4)

The Expendables (dir. Sylvester Stallone, 2010)
It's not fair, really, from a critical standpoint. How could I not like this? Jet Li fights Ivan Drago here. Many modern action movies aim for intertextuality by referencing shots, quips, and cliches, but bringing together so many iconic actors (of so many iconic characters) to do an action movie is a whole different thing altogether.

There are things here that are not so good, the foremost of which is the CGI blood. I wonder what the price point difference is between CGI blood and physical fake blood, and whether it gets bigger for something that necessitates as much blood as this movie does, because this shit looks terrible (the fire isn't so good either).

For the most part, though, Stallone knows how to direct this kind of movie. He spends a lot of time on faces, which is awesome when the faces are so iconic. A speech delivered by Mickey Rourke, for example, is a-ok in its content, but the tight (blue-lit) close-up on his face is fascinating. I would imagine that if this movie sounds like a good idea to you, there is no reason you won't enjoy it (do I even need to say that Statham is great?).

Symbol (dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2009, no US release yet scheduled)
Symbol is partly about a man that wakes up in a mysterious all-white room but it's not a horror movie. Instead, it's a (seemingly) absurdist existential comedy. The story of the man (played in kiddie pajamas by Matsumoto) is cross-cut with the (seemingly) unrelated story of an aging Mexican Wrestler getting ready for a match he is not expected to win (pro wrestling is competitive here). It's kind of hard to describe what happens without spoiling a major development that is presented with awesome cross-cutting about 3/4ths of the way into the movie, but let's just say that the scope of Matsumoto's story expands greatly towards the end.

Even before that revelation, however, I was having a lot of fun. The parts with the man stuck in the room, flicking little switches (which are actually little cherub penises) that make seemingly random objects appear and disappear are a great send-up of a style of video-gamey logic in which completely unrelated tasks eventually lead to a reasonable goal. Symbol really strikes me as quite a brilliant, original work and it's really worth going out of your way (internets) to see.

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